Energy & Utility Skills spells out PR19 workforce resilience demands

Energy & Utility Skills has published a guide for water companies on what the PR19 final methodology demands in terms of workforce resilience. The regulator first flagged the issue as important in its Resilience in the Round document, and has since embedded it in PR19 expectations.

According to Energy & Utility Skills: “At a time when UK labour markets are at their tightest levels since records began, there is high competition between infrastructure and business sectors for available talent. The utility sector has known skills gaps and diversity challenges, the cost of UK-wide recruitment and retention is increasing and with the implications of a European exit yet to materialise, Ofwat’s strategic approach to ensuring sustainable development and sector resilience, is both visionary and prudent.”

The price review will assess companies on how well they have considered and planned for resilience, foreseen and mitigated risks and considered the holistic picture of resilience throughout their business. Chief executive of Energy & Utility Skills, Nick Ellins (pictured), explained: “It is not just about the directly-employed labour within water companies or the recruitment issues of today, Ofwat is looking for clear demonstrations of company understanding of their whole workforce, including the vital supply chain, for the five-year period but also long-term projections for ten years beyond in a fast changing labour market and in meeting new and evolving consumer demands.

“Without such robust action, core corporate and operational resilience is at risk. We can all talk about achieving resilient infrastructure, but unless you have the people and capabilities to make it resilient, it’s a bit of an arbitrary point. A workforce with the right skills is vital for a resilient water sector. The challenges we now face mean that the sector must pay even more attention to the long-term skills it will need and the ways in which they will differ from the needs of the past.”